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Waiting for My Cats to Die: A Memoir

Waiting for My Cats to Die: A Memoir

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by Stacy Horn

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When Stacy Horn—single, deeply addicted to television, and hopelessly attached to two diabetic cats—turned forty, she free-falled into a mid-life crisis. Waiting for My Cats to Die is a passionately and profoundly honest look at what happens the moment you realize—beyond a shadow of a doubt—that some day the credits will roll on your life


When Stacy Horn—single, deeply addicted to television, and hopelessly attached to two diabetic cats—turned forty, she free-falled into a mid-life crisis. Waiting for My Cats to Die is a passionately and profoundly honest look at what happens the moment you realize—beyond a shadow of a doubt—that some day the credits will roll on your life. There are all those things you haven't done yet. There are all those things you have and wish you hadn't. In the battle against time, a frontal attack is the best strategy. Horn explores abandoned cemeteries and descends into crypts. She researches long-lost relatives, interviews the elderly, and learns all she can about the ghost haunting her apartment. No sign indicating the downward pull of things goes unnoticed. And yet life, with so much to celebrate, is irresistible. Here is a wonderful, quirky, refreshing memoir of hilarity and heartache: life at the mid-point of life.

Editorial Reviews

Stacy Horn, Waiting for My Cats to Die, on being 40, single, TV-addicted. Trivial? Self-indulgent? No: a fellow human, wittily facing mortality.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Horn, a cyber-pioneer who launched Echo, a successful Gotham-based online community in the early '90s (and documented it in 1997's Cyberville), assembles haphazard thoughts on her samba drumming career, her diabetic cats, death and the single life, in this morbid but engagingly quirky memoir. Although she has no reason to believe that her own mortality is imminent (she's in her early 40s), Horn dives into the subject with all the zeal of a Baptist preacher. She discusses it online with peers and on the phone with elderly people, analyzes her cats' reactions to aging, and even explores the mystery of a ghost who supposedly haunts her apartment. That zeal is what holds this otherwise confused approach to understanding midlife together. In some chapters, Horn discusses particular aspects of her life and their deeper meaning, from what she presents as her hopelessly pudgy stomach to the fate of her business. In other sections--the book's tightest--she interviews senior citizens in an attempt to prove that wisdom comes with old age. However, what she finds through many of her conversations is that those who've lived a great deal of life often have no special secrets or knowledge to impart. The polls she conducts among Net-savvy New Yorkers on Echo add to her research and demonstrate that she's not alone in wistfully envying a 24-year-old's body. Although this work lacks focus and a clear thesis, it's a remarkably candid account of one woman's acceptance of aging, piqued with heartening moments of exhilaration. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Horn's thoroughly honest appraisal of herself and her life will so endear her to readers that many will wish they could hang out in the tiny Greenwich Village apartment with her, the cats, and the resident ghost. Indeed, to read these moving, surprisingly funny essays is to see the world through Horn's intelligent, caring, if death-obsessed, eyes and remarkably, to enjoy the view. For someone who can't stop talking about death, Horn makes a strong and lovely statement about the joy of life.
Kirkus Reviews
A middle-aged single woman living with two diabetic cats in a shabby, haunted New York apartment chronicles her anxiety, her obsession with death, and the unending failures that have plagued her personal and professional life. Admitting that her first book, Cyberville (1997), did not sell well, Horn attempts to boost her self-esteem by penning these"memoirs," which focus on her thoroughly depressing life and awkward personality. Just over 40 years old, she has forsaken any hope of meeting"the right guy," contenting herself with very occasional one-night stands. Her idea of intimacy is demonstrating the fat rolls on her tummy to a male friend. Even her business gives her no opportunity to get away from her problems. Horn is the founder of the chat room Echo.com, a place where a bunch of unhappy individuals spend hours rehashing their own misery. Unsurprisingly, many of her client"chatters" do not pay their bills, and Horn has to supplement her meager income working in a local bookstore. Her fixation on mortality drives her to search for deceased ancestors and abandoned cemeteries, and to conduct interviews in old-age homes. The investigation she launches to discover the identity of the sad ghost who was marooned in her apartment after some terrible tragedy occurred there in the '50s is perhaps the only intriguing part of her book. Otherwise this story, circumscribed by existential horror and boredom, offers no insights into the mystery of life. Its uninspiring content is hardly redeemed by Horn's feeble attempts to take her own words with a grain of salt. Ill at ease with herself, Horn imparts this uneasiness to her narrative and her audience. Dubious entertainment best left unread,exceptby those who need to compare themselves with other ne'er-do-wells in order to feel better about their own predicament.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 8.34(h) x 0.98(d)

Read an Excerpt

Waiting for My Cats to Die


I DIDN'T SEE IT COMING. One minute my future is endless, and the next minute I have a stomach and a very very short time left before I die, horribly—and I know I will. I read the peaceful-death-fantasy-shattering accounts in Sherwin B. Nuland's book How We Die. (It's going to be bad.) I finished it just before my fortieth birthday, which I then spent in sheer, mortal panic. Now what are you going to do, now what are you going to do, oh God oh God oh God, my thoughts ran, like a faucet turned on full blast. Then I thought, Well, there's always the rock star option, and everything was okay again. Like everyone else in the United States, and perhaps the entire Western world—not that I would know, I never go anywhere—I have fantasies about being a rock star. It would save me. It gives my panic a direction. You're going to be a rock star now. Okay. It's going to be okay. Except I don't have much of a voice, I can't play the guitar,the essential rock star instrument, and I only took a year's worth of piano lessons. I'm so unprepared, I think. Where should I start?

Twenty years ago I was sitting on the corner in the West Village of Manhattan, where I live, where I've lived for my entire adult life, watching the Halloween parade, when a pack of drummers marched by. There had to have been over fifty of them. I stood up and started dancing in the street. I danced with them for twenty blocks straight. I didn't stop until they stopped. Now, I am not a dancing-in-the-streets kind of girl. I would like to think I am, instead of the overly self-conscious, trapped, and paralyzed person that I am, who chants, "I hate myself, I hate myself, I hate myself," every morning in the shower. Why couldn't I be more like my friend Aly's girlfriend, the pretty, vivacious, and Italian Maria? Of course, she had to be from Rome on top of everything else. I met Maria around the same time I first heard the drummers, when we were both just starting out in life. I was a small, dark troll beside the light and lovely and carefree Maria. Watching her made me ache. Maria would have danced in the streets and not thought twice about it. I would think about it. For the next twenty years I would think about it. But it wasn't the dancing I couldn't forget. It was the drumming.

Then, just before I turned forty, I read about a group of drummers called the Manhattan Samba Group. I was sure these were the same guys. I called them. Six months later I was drumming in the Halloween parade. I was so terrified about fucking up that I could have been in any city on any day, and not in front of thousands of oddly dressed people screaming and cheering us on block after block. All I could concentrate on was getting it right. Must! (drum-drum) not! (drum-drum) make! (drum-drum) any! (drum-drum) mistakes! I thought, head down, staring furiously. The angry little drummer girl. I don't think I looked up from my drum once.

The following summer I ran into Maria. I hadn't seen her for twenty years. Quit haunting me, Maria. I had met her at the beginning of my adult life; then she moved back to Rome, and now I've hit the middle and here she was again. Only now, everything about her was all wrong. There was something funny about her mouth. She carried herself like she was still vivacious, but it was as if someone had thrown a blanket over her head. She was muffled. What had been charming in a twenty-year-old was just a little bit unsettling in a forty-year-old who wasn't pulling it off anymore. I fled. I couldn't talk to her. When I was twenty I couldn't talk to her because all I could think about was what a loser I was. I couldn't talk to her when I was forty because she was still supposed to be the life of the party and she wasn't. There was something funny about her mouth. It was the first time I could remember staring mortality in the face, and okay, I'd rather feel like a loser.

So now I'm a regular member of the Manhattan Samba Group. We drum every Saturday night at SOB's (Sounds of Brazil) from two to four o-fucking-clock in the morning, which makes Sunday a total waste of a day for me. I don't care. I never really liked Sundays anyway. They're supposed to be peaceful, a day of rest. The only thing I've ever felt on Sundays is dread.

I'm not a rock star, but I'm close enough. Sometimes when we walk through the crowd, carrying our drums up to the stage, a few people raise their fists and yell "Manhattan Samba!"

WAITING FOR MY CATS TO DIE. Copyright © 2001 by Stacy Horn. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

What People are Saying About This

Tama Janowitz
Reading Stacy Horn's book is like getting to hang out with a wonderful friend.

Meet the Author

Stacy Horn is the founder of ECHO, a New York-based online community, and author of Cyberville.

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Waiting for My Cats to Die 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I cant imagine reading this book and not wanting to be Stacy Horn's friend. Stacy is extremely genuwine and honest about everything she feels. Reading her book was a breath of fresh air. From Death and Romance to Cats, Stacy writes from the heart in a way that makes everyone feel at home.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stacy is a brilliant writer. Smart, funny and honest, she draws you in and keeps you entertained for the whole ride. Her stories are so moving and her perseptions so keen, they stay with you long after you've finished the book. A must read for anyone with a heart.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutly love this book! I find myself reading it multiple times, feeling like if I read a certain chapter or paragraph again, there would be something new written that wasn't there before. Stacy Horn's writing style is straight-forward and humorous. Reading it will leave you with an appreciation for at least one thing she talks about. Whether it's manhatten samba drummers, green-dot kitties, or even life itself. This book is definitely worth it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I came home, exhausted, expecting only to skim a chapter or two. Instead, I couldn't put it down. I stayed up all night reading it. It is charming, alarming, funny, poignant, and riveting. Stacy Horn is a gifted writer for our times.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Waiting for my cats...' is so brilliant and funny, it's destined to be a cult classic. It's quirky, heart-rending, imaginative, and black-edged with wit. Give it a chance. You won't be sorry.